Archive for the 'Tidbits' Category

A few things I’ve learned lately

  1. When a kid leaves here after having been home for a visit, it doesn’t matter how far away they’re going; whether it’s 36 miles or 1,015 miles or 1,917 miles or 7,975 miles, I will cry. Dear God, I love those kids.
  2. If I were paid Missouri’s current minimum wage ($9.45/hour) for the time I’ve  spent so far this year looking for misplaced items, I could  shorten my “Giving Goals” list by some 45%.
  3. Sharp knives work a heck of a lot better than dull ones.
  4. I have yet to come home from Walmart and not need to write something on the Walmart list.
  5. I like to eat meals in bowls.
  6. It is not smart to fall asleep without turning off one’s bed heater.
  7. Hanging our laundry out on the clothesline is soothing to me.
  8. This song floats my boat.

Getaway, Day Two (Friday, October 4)

After ending my birthday by not setting an alarm and then sleeping for nine glorious hours- ahhhh! – we packed a picnic lunch, a few games, and set out on what we hoped would a fun scoping expedition. Scott had learned that there was a swinging bridge in the area, and the day before we had seen a sign for “Swinging Bridge Road,” so that was our first stop.

Our cabin, Gracie’s Place Cottage, was located about a half-mile up a steep dirt road that cut off the highway at the east end of the Highway 9 bridge over the White River, where Sylamore Creek flows into it. The White River is the dividing line between Izard County on the east and Stone County on the west. Our cabin was in Izard County, and the swinging bridge over Sylamore Creek was in Stone County. We were hoping to be able to park near the swinging bridge and spend some time walking around, skipping rocks, and enjoying the area, but because it turned out that every square foot of land around the bridge is privately owned, posted, and inaccessible, all we could do was roll down the window, take a picture of the informative sign, and drive across the bridge. This post (by someone else) includes pictures and describes the interesting history of the bridge, which is evidently one of only two wire-cable suspension bridges in Arkansas still open to vehicular traffic.
Next we headed into Mountain View to explore the town and visit the Stone County museum. I also wanted to find the little bakery that we’d taken the kids to for breakfast-y treats during our camping trip at Blanchard Springs in 1993. We did find the white water tower near the square that I remembered, but as best we could figure, the bakery must’ve been torn down and has been replaced by apartments. Towns can change a lot in 26 years. So can people…
We found the history museum, but it wouldn’t open till 1:00 PM, so we went back to the square and wandered into the courthouse to ask where we could get an Arkansas state highway map. The paper kind. I’m old school. How and why we’d left our map in our cabin was a mystery that could not be solved. They had free maps (I took two, one for the car and one for the house) and gave us directions to the city park which was billed as a good place to walk and “really pretty.” With thirty minutes to kill before the museum opened and not yet hungry enough for lunch, we went for a walk in the park, and it was indeed most lovely. Scott pointed out an unusual tree that I thought was possibly bald cypress and might have the scientific name of taxodium distichum. 
I had not brought our tree book, but being a true tech whiz (HA!), I whipped out my cell phone and looked it up on wikipedia. (Yes, I do realize that wikipedia is not a definitive reference source, but hey, I wasn’t writing a research paper.) And YES! Not only does the above photo show a bald cypress tree, I even spelled its scientific name correctly!!! Pretty impressive recall, when you consider that that piece of information came from a botany class I took 40 (can it really be forty?) years ago as a freshman in college! That although I almost daily walk into a room and can’t remember what I went in there to get.
Back at the Stone County museum at 1:10 PM on Friday, October 4, the sign out front said CLOSED, although the sign on the door said “Open Thursday-Saturday 1:00-4:00 PM, April through October.
Hmm. We were sorely disappointed, but after waiting around till about 1:25, Scott made some calls and we eventually learned that the museum is staffed by volunteers; evidently that day’s volunteer was a no-show. Maybe we’d try again Saturday.
We drove out to Blanchard Springs and had a nice picnic while playing Sequence and reading a bit of our cherished tome,  The History of the United States: A Christian Perspective, by Robert Spinney. Then we took a short walk to the spring. It was impressive, and due only to prohibitive signage, Scott resisted his extremely strong urge to climb up behind the waterfall, muttering, “It just screams to be climbed.”

Then we did something that was sad to me. We went looking for the spot at the end of the road where we’d had our first-ever camping trip as a family. As I think I already mentioned, it was site of the “It’s a BIBLE, Mommy!” incident, and I knew I’d know it when I saw it. But there was a problem: that camping area was marked “CLOSED!” In October, prime camping season. How very odd. Even the memorable bathroom was closed. The road was overgrown and crumbling, and here’s the picnic table at “our” site, being taken over by vegetation.

Scott insisted that I pose, leaning on my trusty walking stick, in shock and awe. Back in the day, our tent had been set in the right foreground.

We later found a couple of Ozark National Forest employees on break, and I asked them why that area was closed and so overgrown. It turns out I wasn’t the first person to ask. They, of course were young enough to be our kids, but they told us that in 2012, heavy rains had submerged that part of the campground, and around the same time 20 people who were camping at Albert Pike campground in the Ouachita National Forest in southern Arkansas died in flash flooding. Our campsite there at Blanchard Springs was up on a little bluff, some 15 feet above the river. The volume of water required to flood that site is almost unimaginable. Although no one was injured here, a camper (a vehicle, not a person) was washed away, and to prevent future risk to guests, the Forest Service permanently closed this part of the Blanchard Springs campground. The employees told us that lots of people have come back and asked about it and that “our” site had always been the most popular in the whole park.  = )

Before going back to our cabin for a nap, a sad Cardinals game, and yummy shish-ka-bobs on the charcoal grill, we stopped back in town (Mountain View) for a picture of what is now my very favorite propane tank of all time.

Catching up a bit

I love to blog and desperately want to do so regularly, but here’s a funny and rather sad truth: when lots of interesting and blog-worthy things are happening in my life, I don’t have time to blog; and when nothing’s going on, I have time to blog but nothing to say. This means that sometimes – like now – I have a long list of things I wanted to write about, but which happened a while ago so I can’t remember all the wonderful details, and at other (much rarer) times I have no such list and end up staring at a blank WordPress screen wondering what to say.

So today I am just making short mention of a number of special events and thoughts.

We were “on the road again” quite a bit in March and April.

Scott, Andrew, and I took a fun day trip to Eureka Springs (walking about town and up to the Crescent Hotel, lunch at Bubba’s Barbecue, Thorncrown Chapel, bowling) while he was home on Spring Break.

Two weeks later Scott and I had an overnight in North Little Rock for Scott to speak at one of our supporting churches there. We also stopped by my parents’ house for a brief visit.

Six days after that, the two of us drove to St. Louis and back (the same night, 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM) to attend the Varsity Vocals regional semi-finals. Andrew sings baritone in  the Beartones, a men’s a cappella group at MSU. They had won the regional quarter-finals in February and were competing at the next level in St. Louis. Unfortunately, they did not place there, but we enjoyed the concert (including Andrew’s classy back flip!) and were very proud of him and the guys.

Ten days later, Scott and I enjoyed our already well-blogged-about getaway to Panther Cabin and surrounds in northern Arkansas.

A few days after that, I made a trip to Ft. Scott, Kansas to attend the funeral of the elderly mom of one of my dear friends.

After all those trips in a month, I was ready to be home for a while, and the following week Scott left for a three and-a-half week mission trip to Kenya. Ain’t no moss gathering around here!

Then, the day before Easter, the three of us (Scott, Andrew, and I) had an absolutely lovely and WONDERFUL float trip on Bull Creek. We put in at Round Mountain Road and because of time constraints only floated the upper section, taking out at Gaars. It was one of the best float trips I’ve had in a long time, and I want to state for the record that Andrew in particular went out of his way to take total, compassionate care of me every inch of the way. He followed me, looked out for me, walked/hauled me through rapids and other tricky stretches, advised me, encouraged me, and portaged my kayak when necessary; in short, he made absolutely sure that I felt totally safe and secure every single moment we were on the water. He knew that I had had some scary kayaking experiences in the past, and, sensing that I was nervous and dreading the float, he just made it his mission to ensure that I had a good trip. Mission accomplished: I enjoyed it maximally! (Of course, knowing that I was floating with a very strong ace lifeguard who was fully trained in all things rescue didn’t hurt either.)

Tragically, two weeks later we had torrential rain, the creek rose 14 feet in four hours, and two novice kayakers drowned at the same place where we had stopped for a picnic lunch during our idyllic float.

Lessons: Don’t float a stream in raging flood conditions, wear a life jacket if you’re not a strong swimmer, and be ready spiritually, realizing that life is precious and can be cut short very suddenly.




A few things I’ve learned recently

  1. Never buy Christmas cards that have glitter on them. It is impossible to avoid wearing said extremely fine, powder-like glitter, and despite aggressively washing your face, you will look like a 1990s gymnast for days.
  2. If every press of the comma key causes all text prior to that comma except the initial letter to disappear, and if this happens with your built-in keyboard as well as your external (USB) keyboard, it’s time to re-boot your computer.
  3. Don’t use fresh green beans to make green bean casserole. They are way too crunchy and effectively defeat the whole “comfort food” goal.
  4. Quicken’s ability to download transactions is as fickle as a middle-schooler’s friendships.
  5. There’s also a Great Canadian Baking Show, and it uses the same theme music as its British forebear!

Several items of humor and one new skill

Yes, I will soon crank out all the wonderful vacation blog posts that are swirling around in my head, but as we all know, life does go on, and before I forget them, I do want to document, in no particular order, the following items.

  • In today’s mail, our ministry, Take the Challenge, received a donation receipt from another ministry for a contribution to a young lady who is doing a nine-month, nine-nation mission trip during her gap year. The receipt was addressed to Mr. Scott Challenge. We both got a good laugh out of that, mainly because it was so very apropos.
  • Scott had posted some pictures from our anniversary trip on Facebook, and a number of folks have commented on them. This comment from one friend we haven’t seen since we attended church together some 15+ years ago made us smile. “Y’all are so beautiful! Patty you are one tough cookie. How have u managed all these years. Lol. Always praying for you 2 and your amazing kiddos. Love you all.” I’m encouraged to know I’m a tough cookie!!!
  • Right now half our dining room table is covered with a beach towel of shredded carrots. Explanation: we often have salad for lunch, Scott likes carrots on his, when I opened the bag of carrots that had been purchased some ten days ago the carrots were fine but wet, I needed to dry them so I wouldn’t have to throw them out, and a good airing was the only way I could think of to do it. Hopefully they’ll be dry by the time we need the table for supper.

I’m also pleased to report that since returning home a couple days ago, I’ve been doing well at some goals I’ve unofficially made for myself. I’m scheduling what I do so I don’t get so distracted and waste so much time. I’m letting go of things I don’t want or need. I’m endeavoring to become less busy. I’m trying to learn new skills, including various things about my phone and my computer so I’m not totally dependent on Scott to do all that device stuff for me.  And last night I decided to learn how to grill!

I’m 56, and I don’t think I’ve ever grilled anything in my life. When I was a kid, my dad did the grilling. I didn’t grill in my single years, and since I’ve been married, Scott’s always handled that chore. I always figured it was a guy thing, but sometimes it’s not convenient for him or Andrew to do it, so last night I asked for and was given a grilling lesson. It was fun! We have a nifty gas grill on the porch, and I got Andrew to show me how to turn it on. Pretty simple. You just uncover it, lift the lid, turn on the gas, twist one or more of the burner knobs, and press a button. Then Scott talked me through how to grill the burgers. Of course, our secret recipe homemade burgers truly are a lot better than the frozen patties, but I guess the fact that I hadn’t made them in probably ten years means I’m just too lazy to do that messy bit of work. Then when we got the grill last spring and wanted burgers, I started buying the frozen patties. With the addition of some garlic salt and cheese, I think they turned out really well. And after supper, before covering it all back up, I even cleaned the grill. Which got the wire brush all black and greasy, and when I asked Scott what to do with the messy brush (assuming I’d need to do something to it with hot soapy water), he said, “I hang it up.” So I did.  = )

In no particular order…

I now share the following items of interest (although they may not be of general interest).

On April 29, 2017, our fair unincorporated area experienced a flood of unprecedented and terrifying proportions. The creek rose higher than it ever has in anyone’s memory, and some folks have lived around here for a long time and can remember a lot. It came to within five feet of the bridge and was some 15 feet deep. Our house was fine – we had only four inches of water in the cellar – but the devastation throughout the county was almost unimaginable.

I was quite ill for seven weeks with the most intense and insane poison ivy reaction imaginable, and two weeks into The Untreatable Itch, my physical and emotional health was further compromised by An Acute Asian Stomach Virus, about which all I will say is that it’s a good thing I like our most patriotic room. We are beginning to receive the bills for my medical care, and while they are substantial, the God who is healing my body and soul is also providing all we need.

Scott’s mom came for a visit, and for the ten days she was here, she washed ALL the dishes – voluntarily and without a word of complaint. We played crazy amounts of three-handed bridge and a new and highly addictive card game called “Minus Five.” We also saw “Moses” at Sight and Sound, which we all enjoyed, although I thought the ending was too religious and hokey. For me personally, “Noah” still trumps them all.

Scott planned and many dear friends helped execute a Crossover Celebration to mark Andrew’s transition from boyhood to manhood in conjunction with his 18th birthday. Judy Daniel and Scott put together a truly wonderful keepsake book of letters written for the occasion, and I think it’s accurate to say something along the lines of “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.”

Scott took a group of guys and and their kids on a massive float trip on the Buffalo on the day before Father’s Day. I say massive because the planning, the promoting, the preparing, the procuring (of canoes and kayaks and paddles and life jackets and a canoe trailer and hitches and trailer locks), the labeling, the loading, and the leading of the whole excursion… well, “massive” is just the best word for all that Scott did. And I’m pretty sure a good time was had by all. Note for the future: sunscreen is always indicated when floating – even on cool, cloudy days. They floated Woolum to Baker Ford and were gone for quite a while. A small prize will be awarded to the person who comes closest to guessing the total number of hours involved (from departure from home to arrival back at home).

Josiah moved from his 3rd floor two-bedroom apartment in one complex in Springfield (which he had initially been sharing with two roommates, but then with only one roommate, and most recently with zero roommates) to a different 3rd floor studio apartment in another complex, also in Springfield. Housekeeping has never been Jo’s strong suit – actually, I think he may have a void in that suit – so he wisely hired his brother, a professional cleaner with five years experience, to thoroughly clean his extremely dirty apartment. (Actually, it may not have been cleaned in a year. When Andrew asked him what cleaning supplies and products he had, Josiah said he had a mop and a dishcloth. And that was the literal truth!) It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement: Andrew earned money, and Jo got an apartment clean enough to hopefully recoup his deposit. Ah, brotherly affection – or at least appreciation!

Andrew has moved now into Katie’s room. Well, it was Katie’s room; now it’s Andrew’s! We wanted to give him some privacy and a bigger space, so while I was so very sick, Scott single-handedly boxed up and moved all Katie’s stuff out of there and surprised Andrew by “giving” him the third floor as an 18th birthday gift. Andrew is now planning how he wants his room and the attic bathroom painted. We have a friend at church whom we may hire to remove that peeling bathroom wallpaper and do the painting. Now it’s time for me to get used to calling, “Annnn-DREW!” like I used to call “Kayyyy-TIE!” (They both use the same pitch, so it brings back warm memories.)

And thus ends today’s reminiscences of “interesting things.”


Saw a rainbow this evening!

It was cloudy and sunny and sprinkling – excellent rainbow conditions – and it was one of those rare situations where we could see the entire arch of the rainbow, with a faint portion of a second one beside the brightest leg of the first one. Very, very pleasing, indeed! Andrew took a panoramic photo of it and another one of Scott and me in front of it. Hopefully I will be able to add those to this post sometime soon.

In other news, Jessica is coming home Thursday night!!!

Pastor Barb preached a humdinger of a message about church attendance this morning. WOW.

We spent several hours dealing with a homeless couple today. It was an experience.

Scott, Andrew, and I played Scrabble this evening (with a two-minute timer on Scott’s turns). On one turn, he played all seven of his tiles to form UNLOVING, and got 79 points! Final scores: Patty 161, Andrew 178, Scott 254.

But we saw a rainbow this evening, and it was glorious!

Jeopardy Question: What are 6, 8, and 10?

Answer:  Respectively, the length in feet of the longest icicle on our house (hanging near the back breezeway door), the number of sleds we own beyond the number of children currently living at home to use them, and the total depth in inches of the snow in our yard before it began melting today.

Equidistance and other ponderings

I’ve been thinking lately about the deeper issues of life.

How is it that when 17 birds (of a feather) decide to simultaneously alight on the same power line, they just happen to land almost perfectly equally spaced from each other?

And then, after resting immobile for 26 seconds, how (and why?!) do they play leap frog while still maintaining consistent equidistance?  And who decides which birdie leaps over his neighbor when?

Given an estimated yard slope of 11 degrees and a confirmed wind speed of 18 mph, which is easier:  to rake uphill with the wind, or to rake downhill into the wind?

Why is the kitchen always a mess when it is time to prepare food there?

What was Chopin thinking, anyway?  And is there perhaps something slightly, ummm. . .  wrong with people who can actually play what he wrote?

Why is it that, no matter what time the task is begun, the volume of leaves raked always exceeds the amount of daylight available to burn them?

How is it that my son rakes leaves the same way my father eats corn on the cob?

Cause and effect

Some facts are obvious to all:

* Washing your car makes it rain.

* Going to sleep earlier makes you wake up later.

* Leaving two undone items on your to-do list alone together makes them create more items in your absence.

But here are a few perhaps lesser-known truths:

* Preparing an especially nice supper makes those for whom it is prepared unavailable to eat it while it’s hot.

* Clearing all the dried grass clippings off the porch, steps, and front walk makes someone mow the grass.

* Walking briskly for 40 minutes in a cold, steady rain makes other residents use up all the hot water.

* If gas is the same price at all stations, buying gas at any given station makes all the other stations immediately lower their prices.

* Doing something nice for someone you love makes them smile!

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